Another report and some more fantastic photos from our man on the ground Scott Jones of Turn2Photography. Scott is currently attending the British Grand Prix at Donington Park as a spectator, as official accreditation from Dorna is virtually impossible to come by. Here's Scott's view of the first day of qualifying at Donington:
Notes from Donington
Friday seemed like last year’s Saturday in terms of the number of fans in attendance, according to a friend who chalked up the impressive workday crowd to James Toseland’s popularity at his home GP. We overheard one child tell a friend he met at the track that his mum had phoned his school to say he had been vomiting all night and had to stay home, at which point she piled him into the car and headed for the races. Toseland’s name and number 52 dominate the apparel for sale, and from the shirts and hats appearing among the crowd it is hard to say who is currently more popular: Rossi or Toseland.
Rossi seems to be respecting Toseland’s stature on home turf, playing less to the crowd than he usually does on neutral territory. He seemed focused on his lap times, a man at the office, so perhaps he was more worried about Stoner’s lap times than he was his popularity in Britain.
Marco Melandri seems as at sea as ever. We watched the morning practice at the Foggy Esses, and more times than not, or so it seemed, Melandri struggled to find his braking point, often sailing in too hot and running the lefthander deep, having to look over his shoulder to see if his path back onto the racing line would encumber other riders.
Ben Spies looked comfortable but cautious on the prototype Suzuki. It’s strange to see him not be one of the two dominant riders on a racetrack, and as Kropotkin pointed out, this must seem even stranger to him. But I can’t help think that in addition to trying to sort out a strange and more powerful bike, a foreign track, unfamiliar tires, and those stiff new leathers, he is also trying hard not to crash his borrowed machine. I remember thinking the same of Chaz Davies’ impressive Wild Card ride at Laguna Seca last year. I’m sure the experienced gained this weekend will pay off for Spies at Laguna and Indianapolis, but at the moment he’s in a complex and challenging position. If you’ve seen any of his AMA battles with Mat Mladin, you know Spies likes to go fast and he likes to win. The fact that he hasn’t binned Capirossi’s Suzuki while trying to show that he can go faster reveals impressive maturity and patience.
Nicky Hayden was clearly pleased with his new air-valve engine, doing a long, high wheelie for the crowd as he exited McLean’s.
Colin Edwards did Texas proud as always, giving the crowd at the Esses a hand to his ear for more noise when he passed at e end of the morning practice. Judging from the many Edwards shirts and hats being worn he’s quite popular here in Britain.
Dani Pedrosa was his usual businesslike self on track, even before his crash.
Finally, I’d like to mention how nice Tony Elias seemed when I ran into him yesterday. He was riding a scooter in the direction of the Clinica Mobile, though I don’t know if that’s where he was going. He’d stopped to greet a fan and spoke to her in halting English. When I paused to say hello, he smiled for a photo and seemed a genuinely nice guy. Last season at Laguna I practiced my French on Sylvain Guintoli for a few minutes and found him also to be a friendly guy, in spite of having just t-boned at the corkscrew the man whose ride he would take over this season. As much as I root for the Pramac Alice Ducatis, I found myself wishing even harder that the team’s hard work pays off soon.
Craner: The World's Fastest Roller Coaster
Toni Elias: We know he's faster than this
Nicky Hayden: Powered By Harvested Wind
Marco Melandri, aboard the Ducati. But for how long?
Dani Pedrosa fell in FP2, but was plenty fast
The Doctor at his office
I don't think we're in Texas any more
Remember kids, don't drink and drive!